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Now Reshammiya can take on Shah Rukh
Arthur J Pais in New York | August 29, 2006 22:10 IST
When India's busiest film composer -- he has been recording about one song a week in his voice for over six months -- takes off to America and Canada on a month-long concert tour, it surely is a serious business.
"It is the first time I am performing on this scale before live audiences," says Himesh Reshammiya. "I have performed before fans in several cities in India and the Gulf, but I believe the American experience is going to be even more electrifying."
"It is a new challenge for me, and I am performing with all humility," he continues. "Live audiences are quite demanding. They shower you with love and admiration, but only if you have done a very good job." His hit songs such as Aashiq Banaya Aapne, he says, ought to sound better live. "And that means I should also be a good performer," he continues. "Audiences are not interested in watching singers who stand stiffly and sing for three hours."
Named after his chart-popping non-film album Aap Ka Suroor, the concert got off to a big start with a sold-out show in New Jersey, followed by appearances in Detroit and Toronto. "He has been getting star treatment wherever he is performing," says Bharat Jotwani, who is bringing the singer and composer back to New Jersey for a September 8 performance in an auditorium with about 6,000 seats.
"Generally, only a big Bollywood star would be able to fill a hall like that," adds Jotwani. "But let us not forget that Reshammiya today is bigger than many stars. "His name alone can guarantee a decent film an above average run for three to four weeks across the country." Tickets for the east coast shows top at $100, like Bollywood star shows.
Before arriving in New Jersey for the September 8 concert, Reshammiya will most likely wow audiences in Toronto on September 20, Orlando five days later, Chicago the day after, Columbus, Ohio, September 27, the Nassau Coliseum, New York on September 2, and Boston the next day. He performs last in Los Angeles on September 10. In New York, the concert is produced by Kanu Chauhan, a veteran of many star-studded shows who has also organized numerous A-list concerts, especially Lata Mangeshkar's show about seven years ago.
Reshammiya is accompanied by Alisha Chinai, winner of a Filmfare Award for her song in Bunty Aur Babli, and Abhijeet Sawant, a prot�g� who has emerged as the most popular new singer in India. "But Himesh holds the stage for the most part," says Jotwani. "His energy and enthusiasm are boundless. I have watched many performers for more than two decades. This man is truly different."
For Reshammiya, performing live means an immediate connection with listeners. "When I performed in India, I had expected mostly young listeners to do the foot-tapping," he said in a recent interview. "But I was surprised to see people of all ages getting excited about my music. And then I realized the reason. I compose raga-based music, which means it has to appeal to people of all generations. Of course, I increase the tempo keeping young people in mind."
Quite often he plays his music to his father, Vipul Reshammiya, who has played in the orchestras of such composers as Kalyanji-Anandji in the 1960 and 1970s. "When my father is happy with my music, I know I have done something good, and there is no question of generation gap."
Reshammiya had also said in the interview that he had felt for quite some time that he was on a creative highway with God on his side. "In the last six months, I have had 27 chart busters, and my album Aap Ka Suroor has given the music industry a new life and confidence. Now, as I am preparing to perform in cities such as Chicago and New York, I feel I am preparing to be rejuvenated and go back home and record some more hit songs."
Reshammiya's music had drawn many followers in America and Canada even before Salman Khan, who was promoting his own concert, sang praises of Reshammiya at a press conference in New Jersey a few months ago. Salman, who has been a friend of the singer and composer for over a decade and who also gave him plenty of chances in films he produced, is also responsible for the additional interest the Reshammiya concert has generated.
"Quite often, when I am recording a song or getting ready for a concert, I pray," says Reshammiya. "And then I invoke the blessings of some of the people who have been extraordinarily kind to me. I also thank them from the bottom my heart. I thank my father for instilling deep confidence in me, for training me and not allowing me to lose heart. And then I thank Salmanbhai for giving me my first big break and continuing to support me."
When Reshammiya stands before an audience, and prepares to belt out numbers from his album or from movies such as Chup Chup Ke or Tom Dick And Harry, he thanks God, his father and Salmanbhai. Then, as his audiences get intoxicated, he feels that years of disappointment, heartbreak and stumbling blocks have been overcome. "I feel I am in a different world," he adds. "And I feel I could sing all night."
Back home, critics, with some justification (and some out of sheer jealousy), say that Reshammiya, the composer, is overworked and many of his songs sound repetitive. They also say that Reshammiya, the singer, has very little range, and many of his recent songs are monotonous.
"I don't want to sing so many songs," Reshammiya says. "But the producers insist I sing. And the stars demand it, too."
Organisers of his concert say he sings about 25 songs at each show, and that there is no chance for anyone to get bored because he has chosen some special songs. It is not as if he is going to sing over 100 songs he has recorded in the last three months, they say.
"When you sing from your heart, from your soul, and from the deepest part of your body, and you consider each concert as a prayer," says Reshammiya, "God cannot deny you success."